By now, you have seen the statistics about how spending time maintaining your current customers or business relationships is far more beneficial than constantly chasing business. Although the concept of relationship marketing is not new, for years it has been in practice by many large corporations, and more recently small to midsize businesses aiming to stand out from their competition.
More likely than not, you have already experienced a degree of relationship marketing. While each experience can vary greatly if you take a moment to reflect on your own experiences with any given brand you may begin to see this marketing effort.
Google itself will refer to relationship marketing as the micro-moments of the customer journey that make it count for them and your business. And as usual, they are not wrong, a brand or business can absolutely influence their customers’ attitude. This is important for countless business activities, such as retaining business or staying top of mind.
How does a company like Google employ Relationship Marketing?
The answer is more elusive than one may believe because these micro-moments happen in different ways for everyone. This is because Google has become the single best relationship marketer out there. Over time, consumers have provided all the data and feedback a company, such as Google, would ever need to deliver an out of this world experience.
Google creates unique, yet repeatable journeys for each customer, that cater to the specific needs they’ve learned about their users. Think about your last big search, Google personalized your results based on the information you’ve preferred in the past.
Another great example of relationship marketing from Google was the introduction of “Local Guides”. These online roles allowed people who were already knowledgeable about key local areas to demonstrate their expertise online and earn rewards the more and more they reviewed and provided helpful information about a business or location online.
Both tactics above make the searcher and reviewer more likely to come back to Google for their next search or business review. Foundations like a personalized experience and rewards for frequency all lay the groundwork for a strong relationship.
It’s not just mega companies like Google, however.
How is a midsized company utilizing Relationship Marketing?
Business owners can often come across an idea that will have a significant impact on their customer relationships but will dread implementing the idea due to time or money constraints. However, identifying something you can do each day to become incrementally better versus trying to implement one idea every four months, makes better business sense.
StickerGiant CEO, John Fischer, discusses these types of incremental changes in a podcast he did with Entrepreneur Stories 4 Inspiration. He shares that whenever the company discovers that a customer refers them to a friend or colleague, they send them a handwritten thank you card and gift package. While this program may have gone through many iterations in the last four years – like how they search for referrals every day – with daily attention, it has become a strategic part of their business.
At the time the podcast was recorded, Fischer happily reported that they’ve been successfully doing this for four years; that they’ve identified 45 business referrals just in that month alone. Bravo!
What’s fascinating about this tactic is the element of positive reinforcement and brand evangelism. Think about it, you’ve spent all this time making sure your customer’s experience with you was the best it could be. Now, when they decide to speak highly of your business, you’ve reinforced that they should continue to do so and have continued to build brand loyalty.
This example is relationship marketing at its finest. At the end of the day, the cost of the handwritten card or gift is insignificant compared to the amount of business generated from referrals.
How a smaller company benefited from The Expressory’s VIP program
Another tactic that can be implemented at a smaller scale business, is the idea of a VIP program. Some business owners may not realize how they could leverage a VIP program. Most businesses can, it just requires some creative thinking. While some businesses offer discounts, others offer early deals or sneak peeks; but it’s not always about giving a product or service away for less to make the customer feel like a VIP
For example, The Expressory has developed a custom VIP program with an Independent Stylist of Ruby Ribbon, Heather. The goal was two-fold as Heather wanted to make sure that each touchpoint was meaningful to her brand and reflected the relationship she wanted with her customers.
By following The Expressory’s formula for giving, Heather’s program includes an invitation to a VIP gathering, a velvet covered clothes hanger, and a handwritten thank you card. She sends these small tokens of appreciation to her loyal customers on a consistent basis.
In the long run, making the decision to turn repeat business into VIPs develops reciprocity for you in the way of referrals and of course more business.
Developing relationship marketing strategies for your business
Whether you’re Google, a mid-sized company like Sticker Giant, or an Independent Stylist, finding meaningful ways to earn more business is possible. Remember that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ for relationship marketing.
To get started, you need to know where you are today. The Expressory offers a Relationship Marketing Audit at no charge.
An audit of your current relationship marketing will include
● The fastest way to get started earning more business
● Identification of additional activities that should be included in your strategy
● Expert opinion on your strategy
● How a VIP-program fits into your business
● A formula for more meaningful giving
● How to stay top-of-mind with customers and prospects
If you’re wondering how you can get started with relationship marketing and developing micro-moments within your customer journey that serve as meaningful interactions, sign up for your relationship marketing audit today: